I pray to the godly and inhuman. The ancient whales. The almost-immortal tardigrade. I pray to the sweet thunder storm that soothed the heat of this June sun. I pray to the god of rats, who is rat, and I pray to the gods and spirits of all unlike myself. Not gods with animal heads and bodies. Gods and spirits entirely other. No human language sprouts from their lips.
I pray to the deer that spots me as I hike in the Sabino Canyon and watches, attentive. I pray to the small gila monster that slithers beside my classmates and I as we are young children.
I pray to the chemicals that make up our entirety. Holy sun and holy gas. Beloved laws of physics and dizzying quantum mechanics.
And I pray because it fulfills me. I remind myself of what is outside me. I am part of the flow. I am part of this universe. I don’t pray thinking I may sway gravity in my favor. I pray to gravity to remind myself:
There are more than gods.
I pray to the gods of the animals and plants and lands to remind myself:
Humans aren’t the only ones in this world.
But even praying like this it a selfish act.
It’s comfortable not having to do anything.
Prayer so often seems like doing nothing. And in place of action it is equitable to thought in all its effectiveness. I can pray for the places I love to be conserved and preserved, but that doesn’t mean much if I do not pursue conservation. I can love my spouse very much, but it may be difficult for him to feel that love if the house is left a wreck after he’s worked all day and I’ve lazed at home.
At the same, prayer is not nothing to me. I desire prayer to be the start of my day. By praying to the Four Gods, I begin on the right foot. I incorporate patience and gentleness. I start my day with stillness. That is the attitude I wish to carry as I go through the day.
Left to my own devices – my own devices meaning all on my own, without medication as well – I am a grump. With a combination of scheduling my day, actually getting sleep, and medication, I find myself returning to the stillness I know is within. I don’t feel the need to obscure my shyness with standoffish-ness.
I’m still figuring out how to be authentically, openly hurt and sad instead of smothering those emotions with anger. That is a longer process.
The gods are part of this process. I do not believe they are guiding it. The time when they had a more direct hand has passed. Instead of confronting them in the swelling sea of turbulent mental illness, I confront them in the kitchen.
I stare down at dirty dishes and rub my face and sense the Clarene. I imagine her chuckling under her breath as she sits comfortably in the rocking chair of her home. She knits away while I stand and stare and try to motivate myself.
“Domesticity suits you,” she says.
“If only I looked more domestic,” I muse.
She laughs again. “You all are so obsessed with appearance. Just get your hands dirty and start cleaning. You’ll enjoy it.”
She’s not incorrect. I do enjoy cleaning, when I can convince myself to do it. I enjoy keeping house. I can cook and clean, I’m learning to knit and sew, and decorating is almost always on my mind. My house may be a wreck, may be a bit more unloved than I’d like, but my soul finds comfort in the domestic.
I think, tonight, I will get down to such business properly and lovingly.
I will take that attitude into my life, whether I am cleaning dishes or getting back into activism.